Land of delightful traditions

A prehistoric fortified village officially mentioned for the first time on 28th April 1001 in a document issued by the Emperor Otto III, Gorizia is situated in a green valley at the foot of the Julian Alps, where the valleys of the Isonzo and Vipacco rivers - natural trade routes between East and West - meet, at the crossroads between the three largest European cultural families (Latin, Slavonic, and German).

The city’s strategic position favoured its development and brought to a rapid fortification of the hill over which towers the majestic castle, symbol of the city. During the Middle Ages, Gorizia was the capital of a large county that extended all along the Eastern Alps. In the Sixteenth century it passed under Habsburg rule and became a bone of contention between Austria and Venice. In the Seventeenth century, Gorizia reached its socio-economic, artistic, and cultural peak. Due to its favourable climate and beautiful landscape, in the next century it became known as the Austrian Nice. The city still preserves the characteristics of a garden-city, where public parks and private gardens harmonically blend with the architecture, and where the streets, the palaces, the vaulted roofs, and the atmosphere in the nearby cafés are all testimony to its Middle European origins.

The calamities brought on by the two World Wars and by national and ideological contrasts badly damaged and greatly weakened the city, that became part of Italy in 1918. In 1947 the land of the Municipality of Gorizia was split in half by the Italian-Yugoslavian border, depriving the city of an important part of its hinterland. On the Yugoslavian side, a new city started to grow - Nova Gorica. From the 1960’s, the border line that goes through this square - which is called Transalpina after the name of the railway that opened in 1906 and that connected Trieste and Central Europe - has opened up more and more: the relationships between the two nations became stronger and stronger over the years, until the border opened once and for all following the independence of Slovenia and its entrance into the European Union. Gorizia has now become a model of integration and cultural exchange, a university centre and the seat of prestigious scientific institutions, while Transalpina square, which is under both Gorizia’s and Nova Gorica’s administration, is a symbol of unity and friendship between nations.

The centre of the square is adorned with a large mosaic, created by Franco Vecchiet and assembled by the students from the Mosaic School of Spilimbergo. The mosaic is made out of small two-toned stones, placed horizontally with metal insertions, and has become a symbolic representation of the ideal of overcoming borders and barriers (both real and psychological) which is at the basis of European integration.